Jonah Hex (2010): a recap (part 5 of 6): Jonah eats crow

Previously on Hex, Vexed by Rednecks, Bisects Necks: Turnbull has built a gun big enough to shoot the whole country in the face. Hex resurrected Turnbull’s son—dead at Hex’s hands—to ask where Turnbull was so he could kill him as well, and the conversation was remarkably chill under the circumstances. Rather than contact the Army with the location of Turnbull’s secret clubhouse, Hex charged in by himself, and got much, much further than he should have. He blew up a couple dozen henchies with his new hand-rockets, but didn’t get his prize, because Turnbull’s pet Irishman shot him up worse than Captain Farrell. Now Hex, having managed to roll out of the fort and onto his horse, is making an ignominious retreat.

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The day after Hex’s half-cocked assault, Turnbull’s having a tête-à-tête with the never-named, supremely irritating Irish sidekick whom I call That Fucking Guy. Turnbull bemoans the fact that Hex is alive (which wasn’t a secret) and that somehow, Hex found out that he’s alive (also not a secret). That Fucking Guy’s simply bemused that Hex managed to live through a double-barreled lead injection straight to center mass. “Hex doesn’t know how to die,” Turnbull says. “He’ll have to be educated.” Oh wow, bet you’re a big hit on Xbox Live.

“I’ve got no problem educating the man,” says TFG. You know that graceless friend who jumps on your jokes and runs them aground? This movie was written by two of those guys. To say they have a tin ear for dialogue is an insult to tin.

Turnbull suggests luring Hex in with something he loves. And the conversation ought to be done here, but the Goofy Gael tragically keeps talking. “I’ll lure him in,” says TFG, “and lay his pretty little face down in a trench somewhere. White as a stuck pig.”

“That would be desirable,” Turnbull grunts.

“I’ll get the bastard, either way,” TFG assures. Wait… either way? What’s the other way?

Cut to Hex, grievously wounded, swaying on his ambling horse. His dog’s trotting beside him, nipping at his heels to keep him conscious. A desultory banjo jangles in the background over some phony cowboy crooning.

Hex hallucinates that he’s in the red-clay desert from the opening montage, which looks to be some sort of Cowboy Purgatory. He’s been buried in the bare clay, even though there’s a perfectly good coffin right there.

His eyes and nose pop out of the ground, and it’s so goofy-looking you’ll laugh out loud.

“They say before you die, your unfinished business flashes before your eyes,” Hex says. “Somehow, vengeance is the one thing you can never let go.” One or the other of those lines would probably have worked better. Or none. None’s good.

Hex rises out of the ground… and there’s Turnbull! They go at it. (Ew, I meant they fight.) Hex gains the upper hand, knocks Turnbull to the ground, but Turnbull rolls over with pistols drawn and bang! …Back in reality, Hex is knocked backward and sprawled on the ground. His horse and dog are gone. Horrendous CGI crows swirl around above him.

Cut to Turnbull, making himself a glass of lemonade as he watches his shiny new gun being tested on a small town. “See, one day, with weapons like this, you’d be able to flatten continents,” he says to a random henchie. One day… you would be able? I can understand “one day… you will be able to flatten continents.” But “you would”? What the hell tense is this supposed to be in? There’s simply no excuse for dialogue this sloppy.

Somebody left a potato in the microwave.

The weapon itself takes six or so shells (each of which appear to have a payload about on par with the normal explosive ordnance of the day), fires them so that they land in a rough circle, and then fires the glowy yellow ball so that it lands in the middle and blows up all the rest. Huh. Hardly what you think of when you hear the word “superweapon”. I suppose it’s true that Turnbull could “flatten continents” with this thing, in the same sense that you could beat someone to death with a Wiffle bat, if you were very persistent.

Cut to President Grant being informed that Turnbull’s little test caused 342 civilian casualties. Huh? Let’s see that town again…

How the shit were they fitting 342 people into this place? Are they lying on top of one another?

Cut to what looks like a Spanish mission town, and good ol’ Tatty-Face Houlihan is strolling up the street, singing an Irish jig, twirling a massive buck-knife, menacing random townsfolk, and oh my God, movie, we get it, he’s crazy and evil.

And if you detect the mingled odors of Summer’s Eve and Tito’s coming out of your TV at this point, it’s because Megan Fox is back! That whole plotline with Lilah stabbing a john and having to go on the lam? It all amounted to somewhere between “fuck” and “all”. In the one [?] day since the incident, she’s found a new home sufficiently far away, and a new… ahem… employer, and has started sexing professionally again. And gotten an even tighter new corset to boot: it’s causing her modest bust to spill out like dough out of a cracked-open tube of biscuits.

TFG enters her room. “Hello, little lamb,” he says. “Have you lost your flock?” What?

He abruptly pulls out his knife, and the gun Lilah had during yesterday’s incident, which should have very strongly impressed upon her the need to keep carrying a gun, is nowhere to be found. She slaps him instead, and he slaps her harder, and slaps her some more, while jumping up and down on the bed cackling like a clown demon, and drags her away by the hair. Because he’s evil, you see. And crazy.

Meanwhile, Hex has collapsed within spitting distance of a collection of tipis belonging to the same group of Native Americans that sort-of brought him back to sort-of life. Okay, pause. Let’s unpack this movie’s geography for a moment. Hex told his horse to “take [him] home”. We don’t know where the hell Hex lives, but he does mention that it was the Crow Indians who did the job on him. Let’s take a look at where the Crow lived…

Montana and Wyoming. And where did that last scene take place? There’s no way to know for sure, but the rest of the movie’s been in South Carolina and Georgia. The fort Hex was just at was on a coast, which fits. That means that that horse has just traveled 2000 miles, minimum. In one night. With Hex dying on its back. And the dog kept pace. I give up.

The horribly stereotyped Native Americans do their hey-ya-yas and shake their rattles and beat their drums while somebody applies a poultice to Hex’s shotgun wounds. Why do they keep doing this, no questions asked? Does Hex have a bunch of coupons? “Good For One (1) Resurrection?”

Try sauteed collard greens for a Southern twist on your magic rituals!

One of the medicine men blows some tobacco smoke that all gets sucked up Hex’s nose, which causes him to flash back to the night his wife and son died. They’re sitting by the fire. He’s smiling blandly at his wife and shooting the shit with his son. It’s worth mentioning that his wife is Native and his son’s bi-racial. Hey, movie! We appreciate your effort, but you know what would’ve been an even better way to convince us that Hex isn’t racist? Don’t put him on the side of the Civil War that fought for institutionalized racism!

And then Turnbull and TFG show up and we tirelessly re-do the tied-up-to-watch-your-family-die scene from the beginning of the movie, only he has a rope around his neck that wasn’t there the first time. 

Not that I’m arguing that a rope around this dude’s neck is ever a step in the wrong direction.

Back in reality, Hex’s eyes turn yellow, his face distorts, and he belches out a bunch of crows made out of tobacco smoke, followed by one real crow. It’s weird.

Come on, who hasn’t had a photo like this surface from their college days?

“Baaargh! It stinks in here!”

Also, the poultice appears and disappears from his chest. Continuity apparently took a back seat to historical accuracy and sensitive treatment of racial politics.

As soon as Hex is better, he bolts upright and yells “TURNBULL!!” Cut to Hex galloping away without so much as a “thank you for magicking me back to life”. He stops by a telegraph office to let the President know where Turnbull’s big shooty-gun can be found. I guess this is the movie’s attempt to give him an arc: see, cuz before, he charged in alone because he was fueled by vengeance, but now he’s enlisting backup because he actually cares about saving people! This probably would have played better if Hex hadn’t spent two scenes obsessing about his vengeance.

Cut to a harbor. Once again, Hex is able to just walk right up to Turnbull’s hideout. Security’s even laxer this time; there’s only one guard posted. He yells at Hex and is unceremoniously hatcheted. “I’m ’bout all out of smart-ass answers, friend.” Out already? Let’s see, that took… (checks runtime) 57 minutes.

There’s an ironclad warship about to launch from the harbor. Most of Turnbull’s men are on the boat, rather than at the gates where they can do some good. One of them is shooting a flamethrower off the bow for… dramatic effect, I assume.

“If we run into mermaids again, we’re prepared.”

Wes Bentley’s corrupt Southern aristocrat (remember him?) is chuckling below deck with Turnbull. “It appears the bells are finally ready to toll on Washington,” he says.

“I hear them,” Turnbull says. “As I’ve heard them for six long years.” As of 1876, the Civil War had been over for eleven years. Jesus Christ, Jonah Hex, it’s called Wikipedia. Use it.

“I do hope you win,” says Bentley. “I’ll most certainly hang if you don’t—an outcome I very much hope to avoid.”

Turnbull shoots him in the head. “Consider it avoided.” Oh darn, I liked that character so much.

Meanwhile, Hex snoops up on the boat just as the propeller begins to turn. But hark! This Fucking Guy…

…has sensed Hex via the Force and is here to stop him. Hex’s gun is quickly kicked away and they get to punchin’. TFG lights up a torch and hits Hex with it because fire… hits harder? Hex throws a lantern at him, gets kicked around and thrown around a bunch before finally ending up under TFG.

“Tell me,” TFG says. “What’s it like to go through life with a face like that?”

“Lemme show ya,” Hex says, igniting his own hand with lamp oil and smacking TFG, succeeding in burning the latter’s face a little and his own hand a whole lot.

Somehow he maneuvers TFG by the spinning boat propeller. “This is for my wife,” he says, and pushes his opponent into the spinning blade, rending his body limb from limb into horrendous grisly chunks causing him to shake a bit and drop to the floor with a small amount of blood pooling beneath him.

But Hex isn’t done with TFG yet. Remember when Hex was talking about his powers, and he made sure to specify that you burn when he uses his powers on you, and the fresher dead you are, the quicker it happens? Well, get ready for literally the entire reason that’s a thing.

Hex grabs TFG, animating him again. Having been dead only a few seconds, the guy’s burning up like Harvey Weinstein’s photo albums. (Topical!)

“And this is for my son!” Hex bellows, as he punches TFG, who disintegrates into a mass of sparks and cinders.

Choose Jergens for your skin’s worst days.

One more breather, and then we’re at the end, fellow sufferers! Join us next time for a showdown in Ghost Land, the worst line in any movie ever, and an earth-shattering revelation about Lilah.

Multi-Part Article: Jonah Hex: a recap

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  • Murry Chang

    I just watched the first season of Legends of Tomorrow while I was off sick on Monday and the Jonah Hex episode of that show is better than this movie.